National group ranks UCSF in top 10 academic medical centers

UCSF ranks among the top 10 of the nation’s premier academic medical centers in overall quality and accountability, according to the newly released annual scorecard of the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC).

During a ceremony at UHC headquarters earlier this month, the consortium recognized UCSF Medical Center as one of the nation’s seven “rising stars” for its significant improvements over the past year. The report also ranked UCSF first in serving a diverse patient population in gender, race and socioeconomic status, and eighth nationwide in offering patient-centered care.

The UHC ranking is the fourth this year that has placed UCSF among the leading hospitals nationwide, validating a focused effort at the medical center to constantly improve the care it provides patients, many of whom require a level of acute care that is not widely available.

The other UCSF Medical Center rankings include full accreditation in January by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit agency that evaluates and accredits health care facilities nationwide.  In March, the medical center received a “superior” ranking for overall patient service in a hospital evaluation by the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Task Force.  In June, it was ranked No. 7 among the nation’s hospitals in the 2007 annual ranking by US News & World Report.

“The medical center’s most important responsibility is delivering the highest-quality and safest care, and we are committed to this as our top priority every day,” said Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center.
The new UHC report, called the UHC 2007 Quality and Accountability Study, compared 83 academic medical centers nationwide on their overall organizational success according to a set of defined operational benchmarks that are meant to differentiate between high-performance and mainstream performance in medical centers. 

The study examined data on safety, effectiveness, equity of providing care, efficiency and patient-centered care. This year’s report specifically recognized the UCSF Medical Center for its significant quality improvements over the past year and for rising steadily in the overall rankings in the annual study. 

This recognition represents a concerted effort to champion a culture of care and safety at every level, including department chairs, service chiefs, nurse managers and other leaders in clinical care, Laret emphasized.

“UCSF strives to stay at the leading edge of health care by providing consistently reliable, evidence-based care to all of our patients, 100 percent of the time,” added Ernie Ring, MD, chief medical officer of the UCSF Medical Center. “To achieve this goal, we constantly refine our practices to meet the highest standards of care through experience, as well as rigorous clinical research.”

As part of ensuring these standards, the medical center also must achieve the financial strength to constantly invest in technology, equipment and employee training, Laret said. The medical center ended the 2007 fiscal year on June 30 with a record $107.4 million in net income, much of which is being invested in safety and quality improvements.

These include efforts such as electronic health records to improve patient transitions between shifts and health care providers, advanced clinical information systems for prescribing medications, and efforts to tackle infectious disease transmission.

The medical center also has been at the forefront of innovative efforts to improve patient safety by employing hospitalists, the doctors who coordinate the array of treatments a hospitalized patient may receive.
“All of these efforts will help UCSF Medical Center continue to put the quality, safety and care needs of our patients first in everything we do,” Laret said.

UHC developed its benchmark study in 2005 in an effort to identify structures and practices that are associated with high performance in quality and safety across a wide variety of patient populations, according to the consortium.

Medical centers were measured on their performance in six areas: safety, mortality, effectiveness, equity, efficiency and patient centeredness. The first four of those were used to calculate the hospitals’ overall score and rank, according to the report. Measures of efficiency and patient centeredness also were provided on the scorecard, but were not factored into the overall institutional rankings.

The rankings assessed a full year of data across 28 service lines in each medical center, ranging from bone marrow transplant to neonatology, vascular surgery and ventilator support.

Formed in 1984, UHC is an alliance of 97 academic medical centers and 153 of their affiliated hospitals, representing approximately 90 percent of the nation’s non-profit academic medical centers. UHC offers its members specific programs and services to improve clinical, operational and patient safety performance.

More information about the UHC Quality and Accountability Study is available on the UHC web site at

. Information can be found under “benchmarking & improvement services” on the site, then under the “performance improvement” link.